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Monday, 28 July 2014

A House Full of Love and Laughter Again

Scooter (left) and Pepper (right)
There was a big hole in my life. It didn't appear because I was without a romantic partner. It appeared when I lost one of my ferrets over a year ago. It was a devastating loss to me, and I still get really choked up when I think about Stimpy. There was a serious void in my life, though, and part of me was maybe conscious of it, but not fully. I didn't realize how badly that void needed to be filled. Not until last Tuesday, when we were lucky enough to be given care of a ferret in need of a new home. I don't usually like it when people give up their pets, but there are rare exceptions when it's necessary, and this was one time when the family really had no choice. She also made sure he went to a home where he would be loved, and she's been texting me regularly to ask how he's doing.

The new fur baby is named Scooter. We had actually changed the names of both of our other ferrets, but this time we have no intention of doing so. The name is appropriate to a ferret, and quite adorable, so he will remain Scooter, Scootie, Scooter-Bug, et al. (That last bit is [et alia abbreviated] Latin for 'and others' in the neuter plural - deal with it spell-check! Man, I hate those red squiggles when I know I'm right!!) Stimpy was originally Stewart, or Stewie, and Pepper was originally Miss Licks - his name definitely had to be changed, since his former 'owners' didn't realize that was not a belly button. Ferrets are incredibly smart - supposedly more so than cats or dogs - so a name change is no big deal for them, but it's nice to be able to keep the name they're accustomed to.

It amazes me to see the difference between a single-ferret household, and one with two of the little trouble-makers. For one thing, it really is at least double the fun, if not more. They get far more excited and play more, and there are two to watch. They don't always sleep at the same time, so I can get my fix more regularly. For another, it really is double the love. I fall in love with ferrets at an alarmingly fast rate, and Scooter had my heart in his amazingly dexterous paws before they'd even touched me. To put the capper on it, he loves giving kisses. There's nothing more adorable than a ferret who licks the tip of your nose with that tiny little tongue. Well, he's not really picky. He licks the rest of my face, too, and fingers and toes. Thankfully bad breath isn't common with ferrets.

The great thing about ferrets is that they can go pretty much anywhere, so even if we go on vacation we can easily bring them with us. There are places where they have been banned, such as California and Hawaii, and I'm not sure about New York City now. They were talking about lifting the ban, but I'm not sure if that's been approved, and if it has, whether or not it's actually been passed into law. I'm sure there are counties throughout the US where they're not permitted, but I doubt it will be an issue. I do plan to take a road trip as soon as I get around to buying another car, but when you're just passing through it's not usually an issue. Especially when an animal is in a proper carrier. (I never travel with animals in a vehicle that aren't in carriers or don't have their own seat belts like they have for dogs.)

If an animal has been vaccinated for rabies and distemper, and has passed border scrutiny, most cops aren't going to give you a hard time, even assuming they bother to stop you. Granted, me having Canadian plates might concern them. After all, we Canadians are known for our potent hydroponic bud. Ironically, despite how much of it is grown in other provinces, it's British Columbia that's know for propagation, so the Ontario plates may not be concerning to them.

As for ferrets going across the border from Canada to the US, however, the CDC states that there aren't any specific requirements. Not even for dogs or cats. It's apparently only airlines that bother with that sort of thing. Since I plan to have my boys fully up-to-date on their shots, though, it's not a worry for me either way. Funnily enough, it will cost me $30 to bring one of my boys back home and $5 for the other - Canada's far stricter immigration laws in effect, I guess. The great thing is, ferrets are classified as domestic pets all across Canada, so there's nowhere in the country where I have to worry about them being banned. They're actually listed very specifically with dogs and cats, which tells me that the Canadian government at least is recognizing that they're the third most popular pet in North America. Yes, they really are. Of course, that's likely because the average ferret owner has seven of the adorable little buggers. Most people don't have seven cats or dogs.

I started out writing this, lying on my bed as I am now, but suddenly I have a Scooter-Bug sleeping on my chest. He's been there for a while, and doesn't seem to mind how loudly I type (I got some teasing complaints earlier on Skype from my friend and business partner - I started out as a competitive pianist and using an electric typewriter, so I really bang on my keyboard - if I don't I make too many mistakes). The point being that Stimpy used to sleep like that. It was very comforting, and I've really missed it. Pepper doesn't like to be touched by humans when he sleeps, except when I comfort him during a bad dream. Then he wakes up to run right back to his bed - the only animal I've ever known (ferret or otherwise) to be so tired he has to literally run to bed.

For the first few days Scooter was pretty quiet, though he did like to wrestle with our hands and was playfully nippy (just mouthing, not actually hurting). Now he's starting to romp and do a little weasel war dancing (if you've never seen that, I suggest typing that into the search box on YouTube, because it's hilarious and how they express their joy and playfulness), plus he's dooking, which is the sound ferrets make that is very different for each ferret. Scooter and Pepper haven't quite found their balance yet, so they circle one another, dooking, wrestling without biting, and chasing each other, but once they start sleeping in the same bed they'll be bosom buddies for the rest of their lives.

We were already planning to get another ferret, but it suddenly became more urgent when Pepper started showing signs of boredom and depression. After all, people just aren't as much fun as another ferret. He got plenty of love and attention - more than he really wanted from people - but it wasn't the same as having a fur buddy. He tried to befriend our last remaining cat, but she kept rejecting him (she doesn't even like other cats really). He would flop on the floor and sigh dejectedly - yes, ferrets really do sigh like that.

Within a few days we were trying to make arrangements with the nearest ferret shelter, which would have cost us a lot of money. Not only did we need to get a special blood test done to ensure our current ferret didn't have a deadly disease called Aleutian Disease Virus, usually referred to as ADV, but we would have been paying for anesthetic to knock him out to get the blood sample, renting a vehicle to get to the other city, and then paying adoption and membership fees on top of all that. Still, even with a total of around $420, we were willing to do it. I just can't bring myself to contribute to the breeding mill and pet store cycle. For Pepper's sake, if there were no ferrets available at the shelter and none in the classifieds, I would have relented.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that getting another ferret would fill up my life and heart this much. I'm crazy about the little critters to begin with, and the loss of one is more painful than I can even begin to describe, but I'm willing to deal with that loss. They're worth it.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Arguing With Myself About Hobby Lobby, Hypocrisy and MRAs

As opinionated and vocal as I am about certain topics, I'm sure many people think I 'shoot from the lip' as it were, and don't really take the time to think about what I say or believe. Most especially after I've written something about it already. That's entirely untrue, however, as I have continued to examine my beliefs throughout my life, wondering where a belief came from, and why it is so entrenched in me. I do want to know those things, because I don't want my beliefs coming from indoctrination of any kind. I want them based on real facts, too.

Having said that, you will maybe understand why I choose to write more about SCOTUS and Hobby Lobby. Just so you know, though, I have not kept up with the latest developments, other than what I discussed in the comment section of my last blog posting about it. There may have been other developments, but I'm not able to discuss them knowledgeably at the moment. That's not what this is about. It's about the types of hypocrisy we see from the opposite end of the spectrum, but we'll get to that in a bit.

Every time a company acts out of 'religious interests' we need to ask ourselves this:
Would I hold the same opinion I do now, if this was a different religion (or lack of religion) being represented?

Would you hold the same belief if it was a Muslim company, as you do if it's a Christian company? Would you think differently if it was a Buddhist company, rather than a Sikh company? How much of what we believe is true about the Hobby Lobby decision from SCOTUS, would still hold true if they were practicing Muslims who were in favour of imposing Sharia Law?

Religious prejudice does still hold sway in Canada, much to my disappointment, and I have seen it at work in my career. In fact, the last company I worked for would not give corporate shares to one of their executives because he did not attend 'their' church, and even though this practice is completely illegal here, and falls under discrimination laws, it still happens. Just not as often as it does in the U.S. We face it with the Catholic School Boards when it comes to their hiring practices, and the debate is very, very sticky. Anti-discrimination versus religious freedom. Do we tell people they have to share a religion in their personal life in order to be employed by an organization based on a religion? Especially when it's not a for-profit enterprise.

The reverse is also an issue to ponder; non-religious companies telling their employees to keep their religions out of the workplace. I do honestly believe that there's no way Hobby Lobby would have received the same court decision had they been Muslims. Not when there were 5 practicing Catholics in SCOTUS. My personal belief has always been, and will always be, that corporations have no business practicing religion of any sort. They're nothing but a business enterprise with no beliefs of any kind. They're there to make money, and they have court protection only because they took a step back from the personal beliefs of the owners. However, that swings back to me, too.

You see, I have a registered business, which you will already know if you read my prior post on Hobby Lobby. I have very strong beliefs about non-involvement in people's personal lives, and think people should be able to do what they like in their own lives. that really what I think deep down? How would I feel if I found out my employee was doing something I completely disapproved of, that wasn't really any of my business? What if they were abusing animals in their spare time? Perhaps that's not the best example, since animal abuse is actually illegal and opens up other options, but what about things that are a little more esoteric?

How would I react if my employee was attending MRA meetings? (Men's Rights Activists - believe me that's not as benign as it sounds, as they have a tendency to threaten women and have been known to promote violence toward them.) If the employee has done nothing illegal within the scope of his own beliefs, would I be able to get past it in the workplace? Knowing the content of some of these meetings, and having met a few of the trolls online, I would definitely have an issue with a person like that working within my organization. I'd be very worried about it, actually. I have to fear the potential for violence against female employees, the discomfort the others might feel in their presence, and the simple knowledge that the employee would think less of me as a human being because I'm female. As long as the employee does not bring those opinions into the workplace, do I have any grounds whatsoever to let him go?

Well, from a legal perspective he could not be fired for this specific reason. It's discrimination. He is legally entitled to his own opinion. If he insults female employees, harasses them, is belligerent toward his female employer, or a number of other behaviours that are discriminatory on his part, then I absolutely have the right to fire him for it. I can not fire him for what he thinks, or what he does in his personal life. I can let him go because I don't personally like him, of course. That's always been legal. I just have to give him termination pay, and possibly severance pay (depending on the duration of his employment in the area where he's employed). But is it the right thing to do, believing what I believe about business being separate from the personal?

My business isn't incorporated so I have more personal leeway with respect to that sort of thing, and I'll get back to that later, but what about corporations? Take a look at the big employers, like Google and Facebook. Look at their investments, and where they donate their money. Liberal companies, basically. Sure, they can choose to donate where they like, considering it's a tax write-off and good for PR and the bottom line, but is it really something that corporations should be doing? They are, in fact, expressing an opinion about moral and/or political issues.

Hiring practices deal with the same issue. You try to find people who 'fit the corporate culture,' but what is a corporate culture if not an enforced moral compass for the employees? Sure, it might be an easy one to follow, like wearing blue jeans to work, but if one employee is more comfortable in his or her job wearing a suit to work they will not fit in. The position itself might even require a suit and tie because they're meeting outside clients who will be more traditional in their mode of dress. That big, colourful slide at Google's offices might look like fun to a lot of people, but some - possibly even me - would be a little taken aback by it. Some of us like a more traditional office where we aren't distracted by such things. That doesn't mean we're incapable of doing the creative work required of a company such as Google. I spent most of my time being creative, and I work in bed half the time (and my pajamas all the time), so I have an arguably relaxed environment, but do I really want a ball pit to play in? Nope. Knowing me I'd probably break a bone, or would get beaned by an employee.

If companies donate to Planned Parenthood, aren't they guilty of the same thing as Hobby Lobby in a sense? They're taking the company profits, given to them through the hard work of their employees, and sinking them into something the employees might very well disagree with wholeheartedly. Sure, it's the company's money by that point, but those of us who are angered by the Hobby Lobby decision don't believe a company should be able to tell employees what to do, either. Admittedly a very large part of that anger comes from the fact that they're still funding vasectomies and Viagra, so they seem to think men should have unencumbered sex, but not women. I'm not going to get into all that again, because the hypocrisy of the company is not the issue right now. It's the hypocrisy of those who think 'liberal' companies should have the freedom to do what they want, and be able impose those beliefs on their employees.

Should companies be forcing any moral standpoint on any employee? That's the real question. I've heard myself say no a million times, but deep inside I need to be sure I'm expressing that for all sides of the equation, and not just my own personal belief system. Do I like the idea of donating lots of money to animal protection groups, and organizations that help women who have been raped? Sure I do. Do I think it should be a part of my corporate culture? If I responded emotionally, I'd say yes, but there I'd be trapped by my own logic about business. As a business, I really have no business doing anything from an emotional standpoint.

Getting back to the MRA, I think I'd be one of the hypocrites if I said I would even hire him in the first place if I knew about his activities, but maybe not. I can justify the action by saying he would most likely not fit in, and would make the other employees uncomfortable. I'd be acting like I can predict the future, of course, because I can't honestly say with any certainty that what I think will happen will in fact occur. The odds are on my side, but odds aren't facts. Would it be right for me to base a decision on that? Well, yes and no. As an employer I have an obligation to hire people that I don't think are a risk to their fellow employees. MRAs represent a risk to not only the female employees (including myself), but also to the male employees who don't feel that way about women. They will likely be placed in untenable situations where they see things they don't like, and have to decide whether or not to speak up against them, possibly placing themselves outside their peer group's approval.

An employee such as that is very likely to poison morale, and as an employer I have to consider that very seriously. I want all of my employees to be able to come to work and know that it's a safe environment for them. If I'm going to be completely honest with myself, though, I have to admit that my gut decision would be not to hire him for very personal reasons. It would be my very first emotional reaction to a man like that. My distaste would be quite pronounced, in fact. Still, knowing myself as I do, I also know that I would force myself to think about it very seriously and continue to regard him as an individual human being. I'd have to determine within the scope of an interview if I really believed he was part of that fringe group where violence against women is not only condoned but encouraged.

Of course, maybe the point would be moot. Maybe all I'd have to do is ask him about it - simply tell him I know about his outside activities, and ask how he proposes to reconcile that with the fact that he will not only be working with women, and for a woman, but also working for a woman who is in fact a feminist. Any sort of negative reaction to that would be more than enough to tell me he would be a problem, and not worth hiring. If there's no reaction at all, I have to let the issue go and judge solely on his skills and experience, as well as his personality as a human being. I mean, bosses will never hire someone they think is a jerk, unless that's the personality they're looking for - which does happen for certain positions. Sometimes you need an employee like that.

If he's already an employee? Well, it boils down to this: I can't legitimately fire him, even if I can do so legally, if he has never done anything wrong to justify the firing. I might have to grit my teeth for a while, every time I'm in his presence. What he does in his free time is none of my damn business. It never was. How he behaves at work is entirely within my province as his employer. Case closed. I may not like it, but I'll not go down in history as a hypocrite if I can help it. There may be times I do it where I'm unaware of it, but hopefully it will be pointed out to me by one of my very intelligent friends.

There are plenty of employers out there right now who are showing off their 'good deeds' with expensive PR campaigns. Starbucks is one that's always doing that, and I've lost track of the stuff they promote about themselves. One minute one group loves them, and then the next it's a different group who loves them and the original group is ticked off. JC Penney riled people with an ad about a lesbian couple that were parents, and when there was an outcry they responded by showing an ad with two dads - another gay couple. Emotionally I can cheer that, because I believe wholeheartedly in marriage equality, and I'm proud that my country has had it for about 9 years now. Logically, I'd like to know why companies are even making stances like this. It may advance a cause, but it creates a dangerous precedent, much like the Hobby Lobby ruling. One company is allowed to do it, and is in fact encouraged, but then people get angry when a company does something they disagree with.

I find myself again stating that people can't, or shouldn't, have things both ways. Companies can't have separation from risk without separating from having personal rights. They stop being people and become nothing but a business. The same needs to hold true for the public when they view these companies. If we're going to get angry about companies taking these moral stances, we can't be cheering others on when they do the same thing just because we happen to hold the same opinions. We are personalizing bricks and mortar, and not seeing them for the non-sentient entities that they are supposed to be. By all means, cheer on a fellow human being for taking a moral stance you approve of, but not a corporation.

Monday, 21 July 2014

I'll Get Around to it, I Really Will

I used to worry about my procrastination tendencies a lot. Now I don't. Why? Well, procrastinating isn't always the bad thing people take it for. You see, most often procrastinating saves me from doing something that turns out to be completely unnecessary. This applies to many, many things, including housework. Another thing is, I've learned something about myself over the years - if it really needs to be done, I will get it done eventually, and it will always be in time to meet whatever deadline life has thrown my way.

One other thing procrastination is good for, is giving you time to enjoy life. Sure, I might enjoy an activity more if I didn't have things in the back of my head that needed doing, but because I've learned not to worry so much about those things, they really don't bother me that much. There's another message that sits in the back of my mind to argue with the worrier, and that is: You might not live through tomorrow.

No, I honestly don't believe I'm going to die, but the possibility exists. If I die, will I really regret waiting another day to clean up the apartment. Nope. Will I regret not running an errand? Not on your life. Will I regret not enjoying myself? You bet I will. Will I regret not reading that book, or not learning that one additional thing on Wikipedia? Probably.

In a way I use procrastinating to sift through my priorities. It helps me determine the things that I really need (and want) to do with my life. Yesterday I finally got around to entering a writing contest. It was something I'd been meaning to do, and finally I did it. So, it was obviously important to me. My writing is important in a lot of ways. Sometimes it's a way to vent personally, like in this blog. Sometimes it's simply creative expression. Sometimes it's a way to share wisdom or express anger at something going on in the world that others may not know is happening. It's been a part of my life since I was twelve years old, so I know it always will be, even if I put it aside for a little while.

Of course, sometimes procrastinating gives me my best ideas, too, because while I'm procrastinating and messing around with computer games or other activities I enjoy, my brain never stops working. I ponder. I brainstorm. I work through issues related to tasks I need to accomplish. If I jump right in to do something, I may do many days' work, only to realize after that I should have waited until I'd thought it through a little more, because most often an idea pops into my head when I least expect it - and that idea is usually so simple and quick that I have to say, "D'oh!"

I always meant to go back to school and further my education. Well, I haven't signed up for the main courses just yet, but I have signed on with a place that offers coding courses. My coding skills are twenty years out of date. I can guess what I need to do, but it takes me longer to do things because of that. Now I'm going to update my skills, because I plan to build websites as a sideline. I can make a decent living at it if I do it even part-time, so it's worth taking some time to learn the newest languages, including mobile application development.

I look around the apartment and know I need to clean, but unless there's a good reason to get it done right then, I put it off. You know why? Because putting it off every time means I'll have cleaned fewer times in my lifespan - and that can only be a good thing. Cleaning is never finished. It's never perfect. I will never be satisfied with it. So, I've learned to simply not care. It's very, very low on my list of priorities.

Then there are the long-term dreams. I talk about buying land, putting up a steel building, and living off the grid, and people say, "Why haven't you done it yet?" Well, it's certainly not because it's not important to me. For one thing, it requires at least some cash, since I have no intention of getting a mortgage for it. I don't need to, so why would I give my money to a greedy bank if I don't have to? Not that I much like giving it to my landlord, but at least they're technically human beings. Also, buying land means a lot of planning and research in my case. It has to be inexpensive, remote, and ideal for what I'm going to be using it for. I'll need to have decent access to solar energy, so my panels can be installed at the right angle to catch it. I need to have decent ground water so I can have a well that won't run dry in ten years. It needs to be at a decent price, and the zoning has to be right. Aside from the solar stuff, my real estate agent will be able to handle almost all of those details, but I have to know what details to ask for in the first place.

There are definitely decisions I'm slow about making, and the land and house situation is one of those things. Other things, like my education, took a long time because I had to figure out what I wanted to be educated in. Sure I'd gone for programming in my early twenties, but I changed my mind about it for a long time. I was concerned about my tendency to hyper-focus. I used to get absorbed by tasks, and would forget to eat or sleep. That would have been easy to do when banging out lines of code.

Time is life. That's a fact I've known for many years - since before I took my programming course. I lost eleven people over a stretch of three years, and it shifted my priorities into questions of what would matter relating to life and death. Everything I thought about doing became a question of whether or not it was on my bucket list. Of course, that term wasn't in use back then that I'm aware of, but you get the idea. I actually had big lists of things I wanted to accomplish with my life. Getting a book published was always on that list. Again, I'll get around to it. If I don't, it's not like the world can't do without one more novel. What I have managed to do is write articles that are sometimes read by thousands of people, and believe me, that's no small thing in my mind.

So I spend my time doing the things I feel like doing, when I feel like doing them, and my time doesn't feel like it's been wasted. It feels like I've enjoyed and appreciated my life. I go through fits of being a workaholic, and I go through times of listlessness. And I just don't care how others might view that. I fulfill my obligations to people, I try very hard not to let anyone down, and I make sure nobody is hurt by my actions or inaction. When it comes to activism, however, I have to limit myself to what's psychologically safe for me to do. I have my own emotional limits there, so I'm careful. I've burned myself out before, and won't do it again. Getting burnt out wasn't a bad thing, either. It was something else that showed me the benefits of procrastination. I learned that running around, doing everything I could think of, was really a stupid way to live because I wasn't actually living. I was simply doing. What kind of life is that?

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Let's Not Confuse Anyone With Logic Today, Shall We?

Laugh in the face of labels. Shudder in the face of stigmas. This is me. I have to have to most convoluted beliefs and opinions most people have seen, because everything seems to conflict. I've written about not being pigeon-holed politically before, but it bears repeating. Not out of resentment or frustration, but rather out of wonder for my own peculiarities. Not that I'm narcissistic or anything. Surely not!

I have some very outspoken friends - a large number of whom call themselves liberals. I have some conservative friends as well, lest anyone think I'm not equal-opportunity with my friendships. Admittedly the slant is more liberal, since many of my beliefs skew that way, but...I have to say there are some extremists there that scare me a little bit. Partially because we can't afford to pay for the things they want done.

For starters, I don't believe the government should be as involved in people's lives as they are, although I do think they need to get their collective butts kicked for not getting involved where they should be. I'm tired of government being asked to take care of our every little need, because that means they control those things. I'm not big on being personally controlled by my government. My existing as a person should not be mandated by legislation that takes away my freedoms, or even my responsibilities. On the other hand, I think business should be very strictly legislated in order to protect the public. That's where government is vital and necessary.

You should never be allowed to operate a business if it interferes with the personal rights of human beings. Whether than means sweatshops, chemical spills, or sexual harassment from your boss. Again on the other hand, you should be allowed to run a business that conforms to the laws, and that should also mean the laws of economics. If you can't make a go of it, then your business should be allowed to die. Period. No corporate bail-outs. No tax loopholes that allow you to keep your money off-shore. If you do business in a country, then you pay the taxes that apply to that country. Businesses do use the services provided by government, such as roads, even if it's only so that their employees can make it to work, but quite often businesses get deliveries or have personnel using those roads in the regular course of business.

Yet again there's a conflict, because too many regulations make it impossible to run a business. We're lucky in Canada compared to the U.S. I pay $60 every 5 years to have a registered business, and I file my taxes. That's it. Everyone I've talked to in the States has said it's a nightmare to run a business now because of the bureaucratic red tape. You spend too much time doing paperwork, not enough time making your business profitable, and so you end up filing still more paperwork to declare bankruptcy.

Of course, the paperwork that's being imposed is simply government headcases doing make-work projects to justify their positions and paycheques. Government is very good at getting mired in the details, rather than seeing the big picture. Everything is minutely analyzed to the point where nothing gets done. It's the big advantage corporations have over government, and why corporations are now running governments. They have the ability to act on a moment's notice. They have decision-making power, and they have financial power, and the government has neither. Nearly every government in the world is in debt, and they can't even decide what brand of toilet paper to use for the White House without forming committees that take a year and $5 million to finally settle on the issue. And in a place with so much crap floating around, they go through a lot of toilet paper.

When discussing this sort of thing, politics always rears its ugly head, because business is politics whether or not it's government. They have their missions and mandates, their policies and peccadilloes. Talking about business often leads to discussing political affiliations, too, which makes very little sense to me. For one thing, I don't see any political party out there that really knows a damn thing about business. I don't care if they're Republican or Democratic, liberal or conservative.

Supposedly the Republican party wants to get rid of 'big government,' but they have no problem using big government to get their contracts or bring in bills that are to their advantage. They use big government to confuse people, and they hide behind it. Without big government they would have no bail-outs or tax loopholes. Less government would mean more control by the very citizens they're bamboozling to get their own way. Pretty much any environmental issue will give you the perfect example for that.

The Liberal party wants to give money to everyone, and get rid of big business. Well, as previously mentioned, we can't afford to give money to everyone. It's just not possible. As for getting rid of big business, that's when you lose the competitive marketplace and suddenly everything is run by a monopoly government that can charge you whatever it wants for services rendered. Antitrust laws are in place for a very good reason. If you think Microsoft has a heavy hand in your computer now, imagine what it would be like if they hadn't been forced to separate into multiple business entities around 2001.

I'm kind of like that with Google, to be honest. Sure I use Blogger, my home page is set to Google Canada because I'm always doing research, and I occasionally use YouTube. However, there is no way I'm switching my browser to Chrome from Firefox because I feel they already have too many hands in my business and pockets. That's a whole other issue, though, and concerns privacy stuff I intend to write about in a full article in the near future. It's still disconcerting when you see how they sniff out your interests and display the ads that relate to the searches you've been conducting, and the contents of your e-mails.

Sadly, the privacy issues with the NSA are only the tip of the iceberg, and most people have no idea how bad it really is. There are ways around using subpoenas that are the result of international cooperation in the realm of espionage. Yes, it sounds paranoid, but when I do write the article you'll see where the loophole is, and why it's really so easy for anyone in government to get any data you've ever sent through a computer. So, even though big tech companies are cooperating with the government and giving out our information, even if they didn't the information is readily available. It's rather fascinating actually, and since I have no real worries about what I do online, it's not a huge deal for me in that respect. It's just a pisser, is all. Nothing is private, and it's not just big brother government watching you. It's every big company, too.

Admittedly it's not really on an individual basis, unless you get flagged for some reason, and the data sniffing software that Google uses to direct their AdSense program isn't read through in detail by human eyes. Not that I'm aware of anyway - except of course when it gets handed over to someone who is very interested in the things you may have been saying.

What's truly funny about the battle between liberals and conservatives is that in a lot of ways they all want the same things - just in different areas. Conservatives want less interference in certain external freedoms, like gun control and business. Liberals want less interference in personal stuff, like who gets to marry whom, and what a person can do with their own body. Both sides want less interference in the sense that they just don't want to be told what to do when it's something that's important to them. Hey! Me, too. The real issue is hypocrisy. It's when people don't seem to think others should be allowed the same choices that they're allowed.

For instance, heterosexual conservatives are free to marry the partner of their choice, but they don't want to allow gays or lesbians the choice when it has absolutely nothing to do with them. It does not cause mass hysteria or vengeful acts from religious deities of any kind. If you want proof, look at Canada. 9 years and counting for marriage equality. We haven't blown up, and we're generally considered one of the best countries in the world when it comes to our international reputation.

Poor people are told they can't have birth control, or they shouldn't have children because they can't afford them, or they're denied access to abortion, or that they should be spreading their seed as much as possible. There's no agreement about 'what poor people should do' when it's not even anyone's business. Sure, I completely understand why people don't want to pay other people to have kids. If the welfare system is being abused, I have a serious problem with that myself.

I'm fine with certain people who need welfare - up to a point. Disabled people, people who are truly looking for work and can't find any, people who can only get part-time, people who can't afford to work because it costs more money to be employed than what they make in their paycheques. Yes, that can happen. Try living on minimum wage with one child going to daycare that costs about $600 a month - no subsidy, no welfare - and then having to pay for transportation to get to and from work. Monthly bus passes are getting expensive (it's close to $90 in Hamilton, Ontario, and in Toronto it's more like $200 if I remember correctly), and buses don't go to some places, which means the expense of a car. Monthly insurance of $200, gasoline for around $200 a month, repairs on a vehicle that's probably really old. I remember not being able to afford a decent car, and the repairs alone made it worth looking into buying a new one on payments of $300 a month. Then there are student loans.

Then there's the flipside; the people who take advantage of liberal largess. I don't like the term 'welfare queen,' because it implies it's only women who are milking the system. Well, think about it for a second. It's usually the women who raise the children - yes, still, in this modern day and age, men seem to think they can shoot and shimmy out the door. So, is a woman with a child milking the system more so than a man who has no responsibilities at all? You can't tell me they're more deserving of help than a single mother. Never mind the mother, even - let's look at the innocent kid who needs to eat. They have no way of getting out there to help themselves, so they need to be looked after, whatever the situation happens to be.

I do think women on assistance should be required to use birth control if they want to continue getting assistance. They shouldn't be in a situation where they can keep pushing out young'uns just to get their monthly cheques. Men don't have that advantage/loophole with the welfare system. And the fact is, you just can't tell people not to have sex. Never mind that it's a violation of rights and freedoms. You simply can't stop people from doing it. Like your teenage son or daughter, for example. They're actually less likely to go out and have sex if they've been properly educated on the subject. Look to the more advanced societies in Europe if you want proof of that. Average age for 'losing virginity' is around 18 there. In America it's closer to 12 or 13. The U.S. has some very prudish notions when it comes to everyday sex, and the tighter the reins are held, the more determined the horse is to get the bit between its teeth.

When I talk to a close friend of mine who I've mentioned before as being somewhat conservative, I still manage to surprise him a fair bit when I bring up something I'm actually very conservative about. Things like government stuff. I really don't want them in my personal business, treating me like a child who can't decide what's best for me. I was indoctrinated into the seatbelt law, and that's fine with me now because I feel naked without one, but I do understand why people don't think it's the government's business if you're a fully-grown adult. The only possible exception to that would be the debatable point that maybe in an accident you can retain better control of a vehicle if your head isn't thrust through the windshield at the time. I'm not sure what the statistics on that would be, but it might be a consideration. I wear mine because I don't want to die, and statistically speaking you're safer with it on. Sometimes they can kill you, but it's usually the other way around.

The really big thing I'm more conservative about is my personal self-sufficiency. I want to live on my own property, doing whatever the hell I want to, as long as nobody is being hurt by my actions. I want to be able to have my own garden, and subsist on solar panels for my power usage. I do not want to be connected to the grid if I can help it. I want my own well, and a septic tank for my own bodily waste management. I do not want to pay for those services (other than hiring the honey wagon, because...shit stinks) because I won't need them. Why should I pay not only the service fees, but the taxes that go with them, when I can get free water on my own damn land? Why do I have to pay an extra tax if I get a wind turbine, because it stands above the land out in the middle of nowhere? Who is it bothering? Would they be happier if I were adding more coal smoke pollution by using their power sources? Well, of course they would, because they've got their hands in that pie. But would my neighbours really prefer that if they actually thought about the consequences of more pollution rather than less? Are the 'aesthetics' really so important to them?

I guess what it all boils down to is greed. Every single thing I've talked about in this post is an irritation that is somehow started by greed. Politicians make more (and convoluted) laws because they want to stay in power and get more money from lobbyists. I see the NRA buying congress, and gun control laws (mild ones to close loopholes only) get tossed out because the vote has been bought and paid for, with no regard for what the majority of the population wants. How is it greed for the NRA, rather than them fighting for personal freedoms? Simple. Where do they get their money from? People who buy and sell guns. Follow the money trail. Always.

That applies to every single person in the world. What they do with their money tells you everything you need to know about them. If they donate to certain causes, you know they either believe in those causes, or they're buying something from the PR or the connection. You have to see where their other money goes to determine that, and the sources for their own income. Generally with politicians it has nothing to do with where their heart is. In the regular population it most often does. Where do you think I donate my money?  Well, I bet anyone who's read my blog for any length of time can tell you it probably has something to do with animals (not to mention the pictures and donation links I have on the left side, which are actually two of the places I donate to when I can). There's one other ferret place, actually, which is closer to me geographically, and where I'll be getting my next ferret very soon.

As much as I might rant about women's rights, and things having to do with people, I generally write about those things because they're a lot less painful for me to talk about than abused animals. I avoid animal abuse stuff usually because it devastates me, but that's where my money goes. It doesn't go to feminism causes. I'm independent in that way, too. I do not need to be a part of a group of women in order to bolster my ability to fight for my personal rights. I think it's pretty clear to my readers by now that I'm perfectly capable of doing that by myself, and I'm just one of those people that isn't usually disrespected in that way. They can either tell by looking at me, or it takes only one look from me, for them to realize they're not going to get away with it. Not even banks mess with me when I want something done - and that includes the ones I've dealt with in the U.S.

So, I'm a bit of a conundrum or enigma for people if they try to define me by political affiliation. For that matter, the politics aren't the same in Canada, so it wouldn't apply here anyway. The way I look at things in life mostly has to do with whether or not something is anyone else's business, and whether or not it makes any damn sense. People dealing with me in person don't generally see the more passionate side of me that comes out in my writing. In person I can have the ultimate poker face, and 'the logic is undeniable.' I don't argue from a source of emotion, and haven't for years, which can be very frustrating when it comes to romantic relationships (for the men I get involved with anyway - they hate it when I get reasonable and logical). For that matter, I don't spend much time arguing with anyone - even online. If people don't agree with me, that's fine. Not arguing doesn't mean I agree with them.